Agile and AWS: A Presentation at AWS Las Vegas

Jon Hathaway and Alex Singh, presenters of Agile and AWSWednesday night, I went to a presentation on Agile and AWS held by AWS Las Vegas at Innevation Center. The speakers were Jon Hathaway of HATech, and Alex Singh of OrgAgility. The presentation was primarily a case study of transitioning slot machine manufacturing giant IGT into having a lean, Agile DevOps team and company culture to support it. By coaching the DevOps team in using Agile and AWS, they report that IGT reduced the time to upgrade slot machines on the floor from 18 months to 2 weeks.

That’s a phenomenal reduction in time, and I was very impressed with their results.

My One Takeaway

I took three pages of notes during the presentation. A lot of it was repeat information from my experiences with Agile, but I always like to have one takeaway to share, and here’s the one I chose from last night:

In this particular DevOps team, each day was like a mini-iteration. They start the day with a standup, like most teams, but that standup plans the goals and tasks for that day only. This keeps the team extremely flexible and able to solve problems. Multi-day tasks can be tackled, but if they have a higher priority item come in, they can switch focus on that item for one day, then refocus on the next. This reduces the overhead from context-switching. Employees are already context-switching by going home at night, so changing focus in the morning doesn’t reduce more productivity.

There were a lot of other topics and tons of information on using Agile and AWS, so much so that I felt almost like we were cramming a 2-day session on Agile into 90 minutes! But it was a very solid talk and both Alex and Jon were highly receptive to questions from the attendees.

Training Game to Build Teamwork

Here’s a 10-minute training game you can do with visual learners to build teamwork.

Setup the Training Game

Sort into small groups of 2-3 people.

Distribute 1 piece of paper per group and 1 pen or marker per person– no erasers! Remind players to keep their content PG. Otherwise, tell them there is no “bad” drawing in this exercise.

Start the Training Game

One person draws a basic symbol or shape on a piece of paper. Pass the paper to the next player in the group.

The next player adds something to the drawing. Pass the paper to the next player.

Finish the Training Game

Repeat for 8 minutes. Players may talk to each other during this exercise. See if a story emerges. Players may not erase or undo any element in the drawing. Pick one team to explain their drawing and the process.

Learning Objective of the Training Game

Teams build on each others’ work to make something greater than one individual could do alone. By passing the page back and forth several times, team members also see incremental improvement during the development of the final drawing.

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